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'We need giant steps': Experts on impacts of extreme rainfall, drought

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 12/2/2021 Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY
Robert Bullard © Robert Bullard Robert Bullard

Millions of Americans are under siege from heavier rains and longer droughts as climate change alters precipitation patterns from coast to coast.

Rising temperatures and rising oceans have for years been framed as the impending disasters on the crest of climate change. But this year, like few before it, changing rainfall patterns bullied their way into the collective consciousness, USA TODAY found in a yearlong reporting effort called "Downpour."

Read "Downpour": How a summer of extreme weather reveals a stunning shift in the way rain falls in America.

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The reporting reveals a stunning shift in the way precipitation falls in America, and it makes clear the nation was built for the climate of the past. Roads, bridges, sewer systems and entire communities that decades ago seemed safe from fire and flood now lie within one or both danger zones. 

USA TODAY reporters talked to dozens of experts about the rainfall extremes and the impacts to communities. We have assembled here a selection of their comments, organized by topic.

On the increase in extreme rainfall

Chad Berginnis © James T Addis Chad Berginnis a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Joe Rossi © Joe Rossi Joe Rossi Russ Schumacher © Colorado State University Russ Schumacher Angeline Pendergrass © Allison Usavage Angeline Pendergrass

Video: TRAFFIC: What to do if you hydroplane (WTLV-TV Jacksonville)

On the influence of humans

Jessica Tierney © University of Arizona Jessica Tierney Gabriel Villarini © Flood Center, University of Iowa Gabriel Villarini Harriet Festing © Harriet Festing Harriet Festing

.

On the impact to communities and infrastructure

Darren Olson © Darren Olson Darren Olson Christine Kirchhoff © Evan Olson Christine Kirchhoff Jyotsna Jagai © Jyotsna Jagai Jyotsna Jagai Daniel Wright © Daniel Wright Daniel Wright

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'We need giant steps': Experts on impacts of extreme rainfall, drought

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